Saturday, May 26, 2007

GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test

When's the last time you took a written drivers test? When you were 16? How do you think you'd score if you took it again today?

For the third year in a row, GMAC Insurance set out to gauge the knowledge of the American driving public in the GMAC Insurance National Drivers Test, where more than 5,100 respondents were administered actual questions taken from DMV tests. And it's clear Americans need a refresher course - nearly 36 million licensed drivers would fail if retested today.

Think you're smarter than the average driver? Take the test yourself, and see if you pass with flying colors, or if you could use a little brushing up. Then compare your scores to the national average and challenge a friend to beat your score!

And, no matter how you score, review our Top Driving Mistakes That Cause Crashes to make sure you avoid these mishaps and stay safe on the road.

SE Polk General Membership Meeting Draws a Large Crowd

On Wednesday, May 23rd after a full day of instruction, over 50 SE Polk EA members gathered at SE Polk Junior High for their monthly general membership meeting.

Members from the district's eight buildings ( six elementary, one Jr.High, and one High School) gather once a month not only to hear from local EA leaders and Polk Suburban UniServ Director Wayne Bauman, but to participate in a drawing. This month's drawing was for "Teacher Scholarships", to provide assistance in relicensure courses or to work on advanced degrees. Great idea, SEPEA!

SE Polk EA President Rodney Hilpipre (at left) prepares to call the meeting to order. Rodney has been a long-time friend and a Team ISEA leader for many years. Today he started the meeting with recognition of three scholarship winners.

The SE Polk EA has honored three (seated at right) graduating SE Polk seniors each with a $1,000 scholarship. Scholarship applications of the winning students were read and it was obvious the best and brightest were selected!

In addition to honoring scholarship winners and having drawings for "Teacher Scholarships", SEPEA members heard reports on: contract maintenance, governmental affairs, and were to elect a an association secretary and treasurer.

Thank you so much, SE Polk EA for your hospitality and thanks for all you do every day for Iowa's students!

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Career and More on Team ISEA Is Coming To A Close

The first person you connect with when calling the ISEA office is that of Betty Linn and after nearly 30 years on Team ISEA, she is about to retire. Just as in our school buildings our "first line of defense" is our school secretary, so too at ISEA, our gate keeper, that calming voice, our ISEA receptionist, who helps members connect with just the right person to help them through an issue...our receptionist/"school" secretary, Betty Linn is retiring next Thursday.

Betty started her working life as a teacher in Pella, IA. Betty taught both Senior English and Junior & Senior High Art. The birth of her two children interrupted her years of teaching--after Pella, Betty taught Elementary Art for the Des Moines Public Schools. She taught at Nash, Bird, Adams, Brooks, and Douglas elementaries before leaving her full-time employment with DMPS. Betty even spent some time working as a substitute teacher in Des Moines.

She first connected with ISEA when our offices were located in Salisbury House. Betty started as a tour guide, giving 90 minute tours in order to earn her salary. Betty later substituted at the reception desk, then cataloged collections within Salisbury House. Betty compiled some 12-13 years with those early positions before becoming a full-time employee 18 years ago.

Betty's job has been so much more then answering the telephone and connecting members to staff. One of the many jobs I asked of Betty was to make "magic wands" for me to present to school secretaries in my visits to Iowa's schools.

Today Betty and I did lunch together at Noah's on Ingersoll for my way of thanking Betty for all her years as being a critical member of Team ISEA. Betty shared how she will now have more time to spend with her two children and six grandchildren who all live in the Des Moines metro area. We wish you Godspeed, Betty!

Team ISEA Member a Finalist in Iowa's Got Talent Contest

I first met Dennis Fett when he worked as a substitute teacher in the Council Bluffs Community School District. Dennis moved on to a teaching position in Boyer Valley where he now has K-12 Music. Dennis has also served as association president!

Dennis Fett is an accomplished clarinet player who has a Bachelor of Music Degree and studied clarinet for six years with Professor Joseph Allard at the Juliard School of Music, New York City. Fett recently returned to the stage to be a finalist in Iowa's Got Talent contest to perform a clarinet solo called Immer Kleiner (always smaller) that requires Fett to start playing his clarinet all together and then gradually start taking it apart piece by piece, ending up playing only the mouthpiece.

To view this Act please check out YouTube

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Oh, The Places You'll Go--Azerbaijan?!?!?!?!

Have you ever given thought to selling your home and all your worldly possessions, then packing only 2 large suitcases (total weight of 100 lbs.) to traveling half-way around the world to live for the next two years after having your entire working career behind you? Meet my childhood friend, Cindy Swanson (pictured at right). Cindy had a career in insurance and owning her own small business, now with her children grown and several grand children, she is moving on to a new adventure in life....joining the Peace Corps.

This past Saturday, four of us got together for lunch in Lincoln, NE to learn more about where our friend is going and what might be in store for her. There are a half dozen of us that get together every December 26th for lunch, back in our hometown of Lincoln, NE (in which we've done for over 25 years now). We gathered Saturday for a special "girlfriend" lunch, with an official send-off by family and friends in mid-June. Cindy meets up with 53 others in Philadelphia for shots and a briefing on June 24-25 before they all head to Azerbaijan.

In this photo are part of our "girlfriend" group. I've probably known Cindy the longest of all, meeting up in 2nd grade (seated next to me). Pat Remmenga (standing on the right) is the friend I've known 2nd longest--back in 4th grade we were in class together. We spent hours and hours on the telephone in our growing-up-years. I always remember when a traffic light was installed on her corner of 70th and Holdrege--she would tell me, "It's green now, now it's yellow, now it's orange." Such important conversations got us through our years of elementary through college! And finally Nancy Goeglein (standing at left) came into my life in 9th grade when we entered Lincoln Northeast High School. Nancy and I walked all over the city of Lincoln--knowing our parents weren't going to lug us from this mall to that friends house or to downtown.

If you would like to learn more about where our friend Cindy is going, click on this link:

We are so proud of Cindy and look forward to her email newsletters as she finds new ways to give back to community, leaving this world a whole lot better then how we found it!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Fake Authenticity Quiz

From Haagen-Dazs ice cream to fake newscasts, do you know the truths behind these concocted consumer experiences?

A Visit to Adel-DeSota-Minburn Community Schools

On Thursday, May 17th I had the chance to reconnect with a couple of local leaders I had met at a presidential candidate forum earlier in the year at their school in Adel. The Adel-DeSota-Minburn Community Schools have buildings in each of the three communities. Here (pictured at right) is the Pre-K through 2nd grade building in Adel where my local leader friends Connie Hefner and Rhonda Hopewell teach.

I asked UniServ Director Peri VanTassel (on the right) to join me in my visit to one of her local associations--Adel-DeSota-Minburn. We were greeted by ADM EA president Connie Hefner (center of photo) who hosted a lunch in her classroom during her brief lunch time for membes and potential members to join our conversation.

Joining us for lunch were two of the five 2nd grade teachers here in Adel. Enthusiastic for conversation with other adults are (left to right) Mary Hughes and Karen Nielsen. The discussion began with trials and tribulations from the classroom this morning. As with all professionals, they brushed those events aside and were eager for the afternoon!
Having the chance to reconnect with both Rhonda Hopewell (seated at left) and ADM EA president Connie Hefner (on the right) brought our conversation around to where I first met them--politics. They both discussed the characteristics they liked about various candidates they have personally met and how they look forward to meeting presidential hopefuls from both political parties as we move towards the January 2008 Iowa Caucuses.

Following lunch I had the chance to read aloud to both Rhonda and Connie's homeroom classes. Pictured (at right) is Rhonda Hopewell and her homeroom of Pre-K students. They loved shouting out their favorite baseball team names when we sang "Take Me Out to the Ballgame"!

The last class I had a chance to share a read-aloud in was ADM EA president Connie Hefner's class. Connie is pictured (on the right) with her homeroom of Pre-K students and teacher associate Sherry Forret (on the left). Both classroom teachers shared with joy the tremendous progress their students have made and how proud they are of the children.

Thanks Connie and Rhonda for the invitation to see the great things going on in your local EA as well as the terrific things you are doing in leading your classrooms!

Tykes Take Swing at Anthem

May 18, 2007

Click here to watch a video of the kids singing.

Gas prices too high? Your raise too low? Barry Bonds too close to breaking the all-time home-run record?

Never fear. I'm here to cheer you up.

Actually, I'm not - wouldn't want to ruin my reputation. Instead I'm going to turn the job over to 27 preschoolers from Altoona Kidsworld Too. I'm hoping you'll be as enchanted, and impressed, by them as I was last weekend.

Let's set the stage: It's last Saturday night. OK, it isn't, but pretend.

The weather is, and here's a word not often associated with the Iowa climate, perfect. It's a great night to enjoy an evening of Triple-A baseball at Principal Park in Des Moines with the Register's political writer, Tom Beaumont, and my buddy, 5-year-old Sam "The Future Albert Pujols" Beaumont. (No pressure, kid.)

Before the first pitch, I noticed a group of children - very young and very small children - assembling behind home plate. A microphone stand was placed in front of them.


Whose foolish idea is this?

They don't expect these kids to sing the national anthem, do they?

"The Star-Spangled Banner" has tripped up many an adult performer. That linguistic obstacle course between "the twilight's last gleaming" and "o'er the ramparts we watched" contains lyrical land mines not easily avoided.

So you can imagine the challenge facing 27 4- and 5-year-olds.

Standing in front of thousands of people.As their images are beamed on the giant video screen.

"It was the most nerve-wracking thing I've ever done," says Shannon Bruchert, a preschool teacher at Altoona Kidsworld Too.

A year ago, Bruchert attended an I-Cubs game, heard the anthem and thought, "My kids know that. We could do that, too.

"But all of the games were already spoken, or sung, for, so she tried again this season.

In the meantime, the Altoona youngsters practiced. They sang the national anthem at the grocery store, at two banks, at Altoona Elementary School.

Another preschool helper, Amber Sneathen, made each parent a CD of the anthem, so the kids could practice those tricky lyrics at home.

Everyone pitched in. The preschool's owners, Mike and Joyce Morr. The director, Traci Lovell. The other teachers. The parents.

But the children were the stars. If they stood on that grassy field, looked up at all those people and developed a sudden case of stage fright - something else for Bruchert to fret about - well, you can imagine the possibilities.

Kenny Houser certainly could. He's the I-Cubs' director of group sales and community relations, and he chooses the anthem singers. The Altoona children were "by far the youngest" who have sung in his three years there.

Earlier this year, he had them try out at the ballpark, and they did so well he gave them a shot.

So there they were last Saturday night. The I-Cubs announcer asked everyone to stand. The players - the I-Cubs and their opponents, the Sacramento River Cats - stood outside their dugouts.

And Bruchert gave the children their cue.

They nailed it. They sang at the top of their little lungs. Their enthusiasm commanded the attention of everyone.

"They just knocked it out of the park," Houser says.

When they were finished, the crowd roared, and even the players turned toward them and applauded with gusto.

Bruchert didn't notice.

"We had to get them off the field in 45 seconds," she says. "I was so nervous about the whole thing, I didn't even pay attention.

"I was just so proud of them.

"If you want to see a video of their performance - it'll cheer you up, promise - go to

On the video, you can hear a parent say, "That was so good, I almost wanted to cry."

Or stand and applaud a little longer.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

ISEA Executive Board Meets and Bids Farewell to Outgoing Board Members

The evening of Friday, May 11th and until noon on Saturday, May 12th found the ISEA Executive Board meeting in Des Moines. At our Friday evening portion of the meeting we welcomed five incoming Executive Board members (terms beginning in late July) to be our guests to observe the board's process.

Our Friday evening session revolves around board discussion items. On our agenda first was to hear from the state committee "Building a Better Teaching and Learning Environment". Representing the state committee were ISEA staff members Dave Wilkinson (pictured at right) and Stan Burke, UniServ Director for Mid-Iowa. Dave, Stan and UniServ Director Bob Brown from JDC are staff liaisons for this state committee. Dave and Stan shared the numerous classes offered by ISEA for relicensure credit including support for members considering and going through the process of National Board Certification. In addition they spoke of bringing the state committee together to discuss ways to support members in implementation of SF 277, the Teacher Quality law.

The Executive Board heard next from Team ISEA lobbyists Brad Hudson (on left) and Jon Studer (on right) as they summarized the work of the recently completed 2007 legislative session. Lobbyist shared that Community Colleges had the largest increase in state aid with a 9% growth over last year's allocation. Community Colleges saw the largest increase in their General Fund in recent history coupled with a $2 million separate salary package for Community College instructors--something that had not been done in 15 years! Our K-12 schools saw a general aid increase of 7%--a 4% allowable growth coupled with the increase in Teacher Quality aid increase.

We ended our evening Friday by honoring ISEA Executive Board members that are leaving the board. In total we have eight members leaving the board.

Outgoing Team ISEA Executive Board members pictured are (from left to right): Nancy Porter, ECUU; Gayle Jeffers, NEA Director; Paul Burrow, State Unit 9; Jan Olson, Siouxland UU; Sally Hansen, Mid-Iowa UU; and Jean Swenson, NEIEU. (Not pictured are Sarah Topliff, Student Program Chair; and Michael Hall, Higher Ed Chair.) Thank you ISEA leaders for your many years of providing leadership on behalf of all Team ISEA!

Team ISEA Executive Board members were challenged at our April meeting prior to Delegate Assembly to bring back to the May meeting 10 new contributors to the NEA Fund for Children and Public Education. Leading the effort was ISEA Vice President Chris Bern with 10 new contributors. Ten Executive Board members returned to us a total of 37 new contributors for a total of $868.00! Board members rising to the challenge were: Rhonda Anderson, Chair for ESP Standing Committee; Vice President Chris Bern; Geneva Grooters, Northern Pride UU; Rob Hirst, Hawkeye UU; Al Mattison, UU 2; Ruth Moorberg, UU 10; Dave O'Connor, DMEA; Oscar Ortiz, SCUU; Jean Swenson, NEIEU; and Anne Travis, SWUU. I rewarded two board members for their collections of contributions to the NEA Fund--1) Oscar Ortiz with the largest total dollars with $370; and 2) Dave O'Connor with the 2nd highest number of individual contributors (7 individuals)--each with an ink pen used by Governor Culver in the bill signing ceremony for Early Childhood education (VP Bern was present at a previous bill signing ceremony and has a ceremonial pen).

Iowa City Education Association Hosts Awards Dinner

On a beautiful Thursday afternoon, I took off in the ISEA Limo (aka: Dodge van) for Iowa City to attend the awards dinner hosted by the Iowa City EA. The Iowa City Education Association hosted its Third Annual Awards Dinner and this would be my second awards dinner of their's to attend.
A number of state legislators were special guests at the awards dinner. Rep. Mary Mascher (at left) a personal friend, a classroom teacher and ISEA member was the floor manager in the Iowa House for the Early Childhood legislation that was signed into law earlier in the day by Governor Culver. I presented Rep. Mascher with a pen from the bill signing ceremony to thank her on behalf of all Team ISEA for her continued leadership.

Another long-time personal friend and a great friend of education is state Senator Bob Dvorsky (at right). Senator Dvorsky's is married to Iowa City EA leader Sue Dvorsky who played a key role in the Awards Dinner planning as well as honoring the ICEA Pioneer Award winners.

Other special guests at the awards dinner were state Senator Joe Bolkcom (at left) and state Representative Dave Jacoby (at right). It was extra special to be able to personally thank our state legislators for their work on behalf of public education on behalf of all Team ISEA!

Keynote speaker for the ICEA Awards Dinner was Governor Chet Culver. Governor Culver took the time to shake everyone's hand to thank them personally for the work they do every day for Iowa's students.

Pictured with Governor Culver are the award winners that were honored Thursday evening by the Iowa City EA. Bill Maher (from left to right) was honored as the ICEA Business Friend of the Year; Kim Hayes, the ICEA Friend of Education; Nancy Porter, ISEA Executive Board member and the ICEA Member of the Year; Governor Chet Culver; and Barb Henke, ICEA Educator of the Year.

ICEA leaders gave special recognition for the 30th anniversary of their first bargained contract. For the anniversary celebration of their first contract, local leaders created a new award to honor association leaders of the past. The Pioneer Award is to recognize leaders that have helped the local EA move to the place the ICEA is today. The ICEA presented their first Pioneer Award to Gordon and Mary Mixdorf.

Thank you ICEA leaders for the great work you continue to do every day. How lucky we are to have each and everyone of you as leaders on Team ISEA!

Statewide Pre-School For All Four-Year-Olds Bill Signed Into Law

On Thursday, May 10th, education partners who provide a rich foundation for children to enter school ready to learn were a part of a historic bill signing ceremony. Stakeholders gathered at Dunlap Early Childhood Center in an early childhood classroom where the possibilities for Iowa's youngest are provided enriched experiences.

House File 877 establishes a program for school districts to offer a minimum 10 hours a week of tuition-free preschool. Districts wouldn't need to operate their own preschools. They could participate in the new program through contracts with church-operated preschools and other private providers, as long as licensed teachers are used and other standards are met.

Next year's state budget includes $15 million to get the preschool expansion program started. The cost per child will be about $3,420. The allocation is slated to increase by $15 million annually over the following three years.
Culver, said it is essential to invest in the education of children at an earlier age. "We now know that 90 percent of brain development takes place before they even take a step in a kindergartner's classroom," he said.
By expanding preschool access to at least 90 percent of 4-year-olds, the education initiative "will position Iowa well to become the first state in the nation to offer universal preschool for all," Culver said.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Whose Slogan Is It?

How good are you at remembering the old TV ads? See if you can recall these successful product tag lines. Slogans with staying power!

Tuesday Afternoon at Atlantic Middle School

My Tuesday afternoon in Atlantic led me to the Atlantic Middle School. The first stop was in the 8th grade Science classroom of Mrs. Amber Moore. Mrs. Moore (on the left in the photo) had half of her students in teams of 3 working in the lab on sound waves while the other half worked with their groups reading and outlining a lesson in a text book.

Students worked responsibly in a most respectful manner! They knew what was expected, shared in responsibilities and kept on task. When I walked from group to group they shared results and really did know what they were talking about! Great work, Mrs. Moore and great work, students!

My hostess for the afternoon at Atlantic Middle School was Atlantic EA Chief Negotiator and English/Language Arts teacher, JoAnn Runyan (on the left in pink). Following the classroom visit to the 8th grade Science, the entire 8th grade team met for their daily 8th Grade Team Meeting. Also pictured with JoAnn (at left in background) is 8th grade Science teacher Amber Moore.

Deb Burton (at right) is an 8th grade Reading teacher. The team meeting began with a list of issues emailed to staff for their discussion groups. As the list and discussion seemed to be complete, others on the team brought forward issues that were a concern in their classroom--to see if others were having the same concerns.

Dick McLaren, 8th grade Special Education teacher (seated at left) added to the discussion as the meeting moved forward. This group of dedicated professionals realize how valuable this time built into their schedule for the team to meet is in providing a great public school for their students.

Following the 8th Grade Team Meeting, Chief Negotiator Runyan took me for a building tour, stopping along the way to introduce me to her colleagues that have been long-time association members. In addition, we dropped in briefly to the district's administrative meeting to say "hello" to the Superintendent of Schools and the building principals for the High School, Middle School and Elementary building.

Thanks so much Atlantic EA for inviting me to visit and see the amazing things you do every day for Iowa's students. We are lucky to have you as leaders on Team ISEA!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Not Blizzard, Tornado Nor Flood Can Keep Me Away From Atlantic

**Special thanks go out to Ginger Bechtold, Media Specialist at both the High School and Middle School for loaning me the digital camera for the day and emailing the photos to me! Thanks, Ginger!**

On Tuesday, May 8th, I made a return trip to Atlantic. As you recall I was to have visited our Atlantic local on Thursday, March 1st but the Blizzard of 2007 hit Iowa and I was stranded in the Super 8 Motel in Atlantic for 3 nights. Tuesday was a bright and sunny day after a weekend of torential rains, flooding in many regions of the state along with a tornado touching down but some 20 miles from Atlantic!

My first of two school building visits for the day took me to the Atlantic High School. Here I was greeted by Atlantic EA president Bev Schelling (2nd from left). Pictured with President Bev are association members (left to right) Deb Thomas, English teacher; President Bev; Ryan Muldoon, Spanish teacher and Golf coach; and Pat Wiedrien, Art teacher. The association hosted a breakfast in each of the three district buidlings this morning for National Teacher Day. 'Twas a nice touch, Atlantic EA!

My first classroom visit had me in the classroom of two great educators teaming up. Here Mrs. Laura Karas (at right) leads a discussion around the month long activity where all students created a checking account, found a job in the newspaper want ads, found an apartment and paid utilities, and much more (about the world they will soon enter). Students shared concerns for unexpected bills, not being able to afford expensive items, you have to pay the debt on the credit card, and sometimes you don't have the money when bills arrive. Teaming with Mrs. Karas is Atlantic EA president Bev Schelling (at left). They make a terrific team and it was such a comfortable learning setting!

I was next off to class with Mrs. JoAnne Morenz and her
Introduction to Language Arts. Here JoAnne is doing a read-aloud on The Westing Game. I was so impressed how students were taking notes and trying to make sense of the "game" format laid out in the text.

Cutting out of class a bit early, I had the opportunity to sit down with the Atlantic News Telegraph reporter for a quick interview and photo with the High School principal and several teachers.

The next class period found me back with Mrs. Laura Karas (standing at left) leading instruction in Second Chance Reading. Teaming with Mrs. Karas is teacher associate Mrs. Tina Franken (seated on the right) as they modeled their thinking as they read. They shared with students the elements of visualization, inferences, previous knowledge as well as building a character web. Students did an exceptional job of walking through the process!

President Bev and I next stopped in the school's gym where the National Honor Society was conducting a Blood Mobile for the community. Here (at right) are many of the Honor Society members taking a moment from their work to pose for a photo. This is the third Blood Mobile for the student leaders for this school year! Outstanding project and an outstanding effort. Thanks, NHS members!

The final classroom at Atlantic High School that I visited before joining staff in the workroom for lunch was in Mrs. JoAnne Morenz's Advanced Composition class in the computer lab. Here Mrs. Morenz (leaning over the laptop on the left) works with students on a composition assignment. JoAnne is one of the fine building reps for the Atlantic EA local too!

I had some great conversations with both support staff and teachers over a delicious school lunch before leaving the High School. Thanks, Atlantic High School for your warm hospitality! You do have a terrificially dedicated staff with just amazing offerings for your students!

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

An Open Letter from KNEA

Dear NEA Colleagues,

Thanks so much for your messages of concern and support in the aftermath of the Greensburg tornado. We now know it was a 2-mile wide F-5 tornado that destroyed 95% of the community. Nine people perished in the storm... one of victims, the mother of two of our members. As we extend our thoughts and prayers to all those affected directly and indirectly by the destruction, we have identified several ways to demonstrate more concrete support. We do not have a 501 C.3 at KNEA so we are working with the school district and community leaders to recommend the following three activities:

1) A fund for the SCHOOL DISTRICT to assist staff and students has been created. Checks should be made payable to "South Central Community Foundation" with a memo to Greensburg Future Fund." Donors can earmark the contributions for "education" or "health care". Mailing
address: South Central Community Foundation, P.O. Box 8624, Pratt, KS, 67124. Donations are eligible for charitable income tax deduction.

2) The Greensburg (Community) Relief Fund has been set up at the Haviland State Bank, PO Box 348, Haviland, KS 67059.

3) Sending notes to Greensburg teachers or students: KNEA is collecting notes and letters to students and staff. Please specify grade or subject area, if preferred. Here is how we'll get them messages from you or your students:

* Send Email to mail to: in subject line of the email: Notes for Greensburg teachers/students OR Via postal service: Greensburg Students - c/o KNEA - PO Box 1616 - Dodge City, KS 67801

More information is available on the Greensburg web site: <> or at <> .

Finally, hundreds of families around Kansas AND the several other states in the Midwest are faced with recovering from major flooding that has occurred since the weekend tornados! Our thoughts extend beyond the Kansas line to so many who are struggling with yet another natural disaster. In closing, I'd offer the counsel given each day to close the broadcast of a former news anchor in Ohio: Take care of each other."

Blake West, KNEA President

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Polk Suburban UniServ Unit Holds Recognition Dinner

Polk Suburban UniServ Unit held its 2nd annual Recognition Dinner on Tuesday evening, May 1st in Ankeny at "Traditions" restaurant. I was invited last year too and say this is a mighty fine tradition to continue!

Polk Suburban UniServ President Rodney Hilpipre (seated on the left), a teacher in Southeast Polk, welcomed the over 70 members. Seated with President Rodney are UniServ Directors Wayne Bauman and Peri Van Tassel.

Prior to dinner both Jan Reinicke, ISEA Executive Director and me had the opportunity to address the group. I spoke of the difference member invovement meant in electing state legislators that do more then talk about making education a priority. Jan shared, with the passage of the new and improved Teacher Quality law, educators for the first time will have a voice in their professional development. Jan also shared that Community Colleges saw a 9% growth in their budgets (including a separate salary allocation) and Birth-12 grade districts saw a 7% growth (including the Teacher Quality funds).

Iowa's 2007 Teacher of the Year, Jan Keese, a 3rd grade teacher from Ankeny addressed the group. Jan shared how nation-wide all state Teacher's of the Year have banned together to speak out on needed changes to the so called No Child Left Behind law. Jan is not only an ISEA member, but she is the secretary for Polk Suburban UniServ Unit!

Following dinner, President Rodney was joined by UniServ Directors Peri and Wayne in honoring PSUU local associations for Membership gains and for meeting their Bargaining Goals. Many, many locals were honored for the great work their local leaders continue to do!

The evening was a great opportunity to reconnect with the many friends I've made from Polk Suburban locals. I've visited bus barns, the Community College campus, and so many locals throughout the Unit. Thanks PSUU for the great work you continue to do on behalf of Team ISEA and for your leadership in the educational work place!

Geode Education Association Spring UniServ Assembly

On Monday evening, April 30th, Associate Executive Director for Field Services Randy Richardson and I headed south on Hwy 216 (then east on Hwy 34) to Mt. Pleasant for Geode's Spring Assembly. It was a special treat for me (not to drive), but it is so great to have someone to visit with on the long stretches of highway. Randy is "good company"! The meeting was held at Tazza Bella (a neat coffee shop with lots of antiques) right on the town square in Mt. Pleasant.

Geode UniServ President Gail Myers (seated at left/listening to a speaker) led the assembly. Also pictured (on the right) is Geode's Secretary, Ed Basow. Both Gail and Ed are teachers in Keokuk.

My message centered around "What a Difference an Election Makes". I shared a few of the educational successes of the 2007 General Assembly and connected that to the importance of contributing to both ISEA-PAC and NEA-PAC. We had an increase of 10% of members contributing to ISEA-PAC this year. We hope to build upon the successes of this General Assembly and have a minimum of 70% of our members contributing to ISEA-PAC next year! Participation in NEA-PAC contributors grew by 25%.

Associate Executive Director Richardson (standing at right) shared details of the "new and improved" Teacher Quality Law with Geode members. In addition, Randy challenged all of us to build our membership. Setting the statewide goal of 1,000 new members, Randy shared with each Geode local exactly how many new members that would mean to them.

President Gail also led the effort in raising funds for expenses for Geode delegates that participate in the upcoming NEA Representative Assembly in Philadelphia. Geode UniServ Board members and UniServ Director Suzy Card all donated items used for a "silent auction". After writing a check for my two items, they let me leave town!

I love visiting Geode--so many good friends and great leaders! I have visited so many of you on your Community College campus and in your classrooms, you are indeed a special group! Thanks for all you continue to do as leaders on Team ISEA!